Monthly Newsletter

April 2018 Newsletter: “So Many Wins in April”


Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders and BRT Campaigns Both See Victory!

Victory! Armed officers will not be checking fare payment on the T

Image: black and white photo of people at a rally, holding a large cardboard bus/police van that says “Protect and Serve (only white people)” and a sign that says ” All deportations are unjust/.” People are chanting. Photo credit: Kimmy DinhThanks to all the hard work of the Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders Campaign over this past year, the Port Authority has walked back their initial proposal of having armed police check fare payment on the T!

Thank you to the many hundreds of people that signed petitions and postcards, gave powerful testimony at the Port Authority Board, showed up to a rallies in chilling rain and below-freezing weather, and made sure that the Port Authority and people like Rich Fitzgerald and Dom Costa heard you loud and clear when you said you would not see your neighbors and fellow transit riders be put in harm’s way! You made this victory possible!

Over the last year, we’ve had dozens of people testify at the Port Authority, more than 30 organizations and neighborhood groups sign onto a letter opposing criminalization of transit riders. The Pittsburgh School Board sent a separate letter talking about the impact to youth. We had hundreds of postcards that we delivered to Rep Dom Costa’s office and thousands of petition signatures. We had lots of immigrant transit riders say that they would no longer take the T, because it would become an immigration checkpoint rather than a safe and effective way for them to live their lives.

This is a victory protecting our residents from police brutality, from criminalizing the poor, from accelerating the school to prison pipeline, from wrenching immigrant families away from their homes and communities, and from discouraging folks from taking public transit. So much was at stake. We know this, because we’ve seen public transit become a flashpoint for all of these tragedies in so many other cities.

Going forward, there will continue to be work to do around this issue, because the severe criminal consequences for fare evasion remain in place, even if they are rarely enacted. Our coalition will continue to push the Port Authority to ensure that riders and drivers are at the table to advocate for changing the laws on the books to create a more humane civil fare enforcement policy in the future.

When we fight, we win!

BRT Campaign a Victory

Image: full room at the public meeting the Port Authority called to provide updates at the Rankin Christian Center.Thanks to all the hard work of thousands of Mon Valley residents, the BRT Campaign was a huge success! The Port Authority has walked back their initial proposal of massive cuts to frequency on the 61 buses (and the 71 buses). In fact, the Mon Valley now has been promised an improvement on their current service!

The 61A,B, and C, the P3 and the 71B will be converted to BRT routes and would see NO reductions in frequency and NO mandatory transfers to get to town. The 61D will additionally still run to the Waterfront.

What an amazing win! Huge thanks and shoutout to our partners Just Harvest and the Mon Valley Initiative as well as Mayor Nickole Nesby of Duquesne, Braddock Council President Tina Doose, Fawn Walker- Montgomery, and Summer Lee for all their support and amazing work. There are so many other leaders in the Mon Valley that have testified, collected postcards, led our rallies, shared stories, and have put in so much work to make this happen. This couldn’t have happened without you!

Amazon Press Conference

Pittsburghers gathered outside the City’s and Heinz Endowment’s “P4 Conference” to highlight the hypocrisy of talking about inclusion, equity, and a city for all while offering billions on incentives to attract Amazon HQ2 to the city.

Amazon HQ2 stands against everything the P4 says it supports and against the interests of the hundreds of thousands of residents that call Pittsburgh home now.

Image: People gathered near river downtown with signs that say “Who can afford to live in Amazon’s Pittsburgh?,” “Black Homes Matter,” and “Don’t Give Our Homes to Amazon HQ2!” Photo credit: Dean Mougianis
Check out the video here!

A couple of hundred tech jobs moving to East Liberty caused massive displacement.
If we call what happened in East Liberty a tragedy, then bringing Amazon here is a crime.

A few hundred tech jobs in East Liberty created a crisis of housing speculation, gentrification and displacement. Imagine that 50 or 100 times over, and our city will have a housing crisis and the displacement of tens of thousands of residents in a matter of a few years.

Amazon HQ2 will exacerbate the already existing housing crisis, push transit dependent riders to areas with little to no bus service, make the city unlivable for most of the residents who are here, and will privilege the new, wealthy, tech workers who will be relocating here at the expense of long time residents.

Questions the city doesn’t seem to have answers for: Who will be prioritized for transit infrastructure projects? Will they be projects that increase connectivity for tech workers, or ones that create better connectivity for seniors and low income workers that depend on public transit?


Duquesne Place Residents Win Their Bus Back!

Residents of Hilltop Parkview Manor in Duquesne have been without a bus for too long. This fall, they fought to have service restored so that they would not have to face a long walk on dimly-lit, steep, and dangerous streets to their nearest bus stop. Check out the Post-Gazette article from the testimony at the board that quotes Debra Watson, one of the resident leaders of the campaign:

“Deb Watson of Duquesne and her neighbors in the Hilltop Parkview Manor Apartments don’t think it’s too much to ask that Port Authority route a bus to the complex. The alternative for the 600 residents is a hilly, mile-long walk on busy streets with no sidewalks and limited streetlights. Ms. Watson, who uses a cane, and several other residents with a variety of mobility issues lobbied the Port Authority board Friday to return direct service to their complex on Duquesne Place Drive. Right now, the nearest bus stop is either on Hoffman Boulevard or Route 837.“It’s terrible,” Ms. Watson said. “We have to walk in the middle of the street in the winter. We really need a bus.”

And now, thanks to their efforts, they have one! The Port Authority has announced that the 59 bus will now stop at the apartments and will start service there in June of this year. When we fight, we win!

PPT’s 1st Quarterly Meeting a Success!

We got to the heart of why we do what we do at PPT and the ways in which transit connects to almost every other aspect of people’s lives. Bus Lines are Life Lines, and the fight for transit justice is such a critical part of of the fight for a better, a more equitable, a more just society.

Image: Full room of people gathered at tables in groups at the PPT Quarterly Meeting. Laura Wiens is at front of room speaking. Photo Credit: Crystal Jennings
We are constantly fed a narrative of scarcity– we are left in a position of scrambling for crumbs from giant development needs or mitigating some of the harm that those deals will inflict, all the while told that these are the two options we have: crumbs or nothing.

But these deals are made with our money, our land, our cities. What if we used these resources to actually meet the needs of our communities? What if we actually used our resources so communities could have clean water, healthy food, clean air, affordable housing?

Transit Center: Gender Equity Panel with PPT’s own Laura Wiens

Check out PPT Director Laura Wiens doing an awesome job on a panel on gender and transit in New York, hosted by the Transit Center!